When General Manager Daniela Duran first came to the United States in 1996, she was only 15 years old, had never had a job and didn’t speak any English – and she had only been in a McDonald’s restaurant once in her life. So when she says she didn’t envision ever being a McDonald’s restaurant manager – much less receiving an Outstanding Store Manager Award as well as a Ray Kroc Award – it’s easy to understand why.
“My McDonald’s restaurant gave me the opportunity to be where I am today,” says Duran, who runs one of the Franklin, New Jersey, locations for local owner/operator Anthony Scari. “When I first became a crew member, I didn’t speak English and I was a little shy. But the more people talked to me and the more I understood, the more I wanted to learn and do. All of this opportunity came from my job at McDonald’s.”
While Duran appreciates everything her McDonald’s restaurant has done for her, she also has, quite aptly, returned the favor. She leads a culture that puts the customer first and values all of her employees.
“When our customers come in, they have managers and crew members they look for because they love who is giving them great customer service here,” says Duran, who has been with her McDonald’s restaurant for 16 years, a job she says is the only one she has ever had. “And we do quite a bit of celebrating with our crew – their birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – because they mean so much to all of us. Our team is the reason for our success.”
As Duran reflects on growing up in the Dominican Republic and coming to the U.S. when she was so young, she can’t help but think about how far she has come in the last 16 years.
“My life has been a series of dreams – dreaming of coming to the United States, dreaming of getting a job and making a better life, dreaming of being good at what I do – and dreaming about being successful,” says Duran. “When I first started working at my McDonald’s restaurant, being a manager someday just seemed so far off. But the training I was given and the opportunity really made me think it was possible. When I received the Outstanding Store Manager Award in 2013, I thought to myself, ‘I am going to go for it and try to get a Ray Kroc Award.’ Now it’s all more than a dream, it’s real. I am really proud of myself, but I’m also proud of all the people who have helped me. My operator, my supervisor, my team, my customers – without them, none of it would have been possible.”
Note: A longer version of this article was first published in Manager’s News, February 2016, which features Duran on the cover.